New assembly seeks to unite grad students

Ashanka Kumari

A new graduate student assembly looks to build an effective government for graduate students.

Robert Harris III, the president of the Graduate Student Association, said the formal inauguration of the first Graduate Student Assembly is a major milestone for graduate student government at the University.

“Before, the Graduate Student Association only consisted of an executive council, which allowed for limited input and perspectives regarding the graduate experience,” Harris said. “With the new Assembly, every graduate department on campus will be represented. This is a major step forward for graduate student government.”

All of the new Assembly representatives took an oath of office at the inauguration ceremony, which was held Friday afternoon in Shelby Hall, according to a UA news release.

Will Nevin, spokesman for the Graduate Student Association, said he is amazed by what the Graduate Student Association has been able to accomplish this year.

“This is an organization that was built from the ground up in the span of just a few months. As grad students, we went from having nothing to having a fully-formed governmental organization,” Nevin said.

The new Graduate Assembly will serve to aid the University in making decisions regarding policy, development and curriculum as it relates specifically to the experience of graduate students, Harris said.

Additionally, the new Assembly will allow for diversity in graduate perspectives and will enhance the flow of communication between students, departments and administrators, Harris said.

Rosalind Moore, director of graduate student services, said the Assembly was a welcome change that will provide for more streamlined and effective communication with the graduate student population.

“The group of students charged as representatives of the Assembly will be instrumental in establishing a voice for needs that only they can fully understand and ascertain as graduate students at the Capstone,” Moore said.

Harris said the Assembly will play a vital role in the lives of UA graduate students, as it represents an opportunity for graduate students to fully engage their campus at every level.

“The University has done a terrific job of improving the graduate experience, but there remains much more to do,” Harris said. “The creation of the Assembly will secure graduate students a voice in the administrative process as well as provide University administrators with a readily available graduate cross-section to consult on new policy going forward.”

Harris said the future for graduate student government looks bright. After serving many roles during his tenure at the University, Harris said each role has been, without a doubt, fulfilling.

“To lead this government during an era of positive transformation is all any leader could ask for; I am confident going forward that the state of graduate education at the University has forever changed and changed it has for the better,” Harris said.